5 magical Christmas Markets in Vienna

Vienna, Austria’s capital is known the world over for Mozart and Beethoven, for ballroom dancing and museums, for the Hapsburg monarchy and Art Nouveau architecture and for chocolaty Sacher Torte and Apple Strudel. These make it worth to visit but wait till you see all the magical Christmas Markets. The atmosphere in Vienna during Christmas time is amazing.

Christmas Market Spittelberg

They call Spittelberg a village in the city and it is obvious why. The area with lots of glorious houses of the Biedermeier period was independent before it became a borough of the city of Vienna in 1850. There are narrow cobble-stoned lanes with restaurants and small stores, and lots of small squares where you can relax and take in the atmosphere. Right now everything is decorated for Christmas, and there is festive spirit everywhere. Go for a walk to browse the 100 stalls, which you’ll find all over the village, and drink a glass of punch to warm up. If you go there in the early evening it becomes very merry and cosy. Hundreds of visitors gather in the cold and have a fun night out.

Info Christmas Market Spittelberg. Spittelberggasse. Open till 23rd December 2016. Hours: Monday till Thursday 3pm to 9pm, Friday 3pm to 9.30 pm, Saturday 12pm to 9.30pm, Sunday 12pm to 9pm.

Christmas Market Michaelerplatz, Hofburg

The Michaelerplatz, a baroque style square is directly next the famous Hofburg of Vienna. It has been designed in 1725, albeit finished only at the end of the 19th century. In the centre of the square and right next to the Christmas Market you have the chance to marvel at archaeological excavations. The square is illuminated and has only a few select stalls, and there are horse carriages parked everywhere. Can a Christmas Market be more enchanting?

As one stall holder tells me, the Austrians love to drink their punch at Christmas, and there are many different punch varieties on offer in this city. Did you know that punch originally is from India? English navigators brought the mixed drink to Europe in the 16th century. Its name stems from the Hindu word panch, five, and refers to its original five ingredients: water, wine, lemon juice, fruits and spices. Today star anise, vanilla beans, orange zest, ginger, and often rum is added to the drink. A specialty of this Christmas market is the Sisi punch. To what extent Sisi, the empress and her husband, Franz-Joseph, the emporer of Austria enjoyed drinking punch, is something we will probably never find out. The stall holder tells me, that “people love to order drinks named after the famous couple.” And boy, he is right, that is exactly the reason I ordered the Sisi punch. While I sip the warm drink carefully, so that I can enjoy it thoroughly, I see Sisi right before me, and it tastes just as lovely as I always imagined her to be.

You can buy handmade cribs, toys, crafts, classic headwear, and wonderful spice decoration at this market. Farouk from Salzburg Creation sells all things spice with a big smile. He is originally from Algeria (People's Democratic Republic of Algeria) and moved to Vienna for love. He is married to a “very lovely Viennese lady,” and “loves his life in Austria.”

Info Christmas Market Michaelerplatz. 23rd November 2016 till 24th December 2016. Hours: 10am to 8pm. 24th December 2016: 10am – 6pm.

Christmas Market Stephanplatz

This is a small Christmas Market right in the centre of town, and stalls run all around the St Stephen’s Cathedral. Exhibitors offer quality products, all made in Austria. The wind howls around the cathedral grounds and the icy cold air indeed adds to the Christmassy atmosphere. The Cathedral has been completed in 1160 and is the national emblem of Austria.

Andrea and her partner, one of the proud stall holders, make diaries from scratch. The two autodidacts from Romania are proper artisans. When they started their business they dissected vintage books, to truly understand the art of book binding. They use a secret mixture to alter the thick paper, and achieve these well-worn haptic only old books have. Andrea tells me with a cheeky smile that “one ingredient is cinnamon, but I won’t tell you more …”

Info Christmas Market Stephanplatz. Open till 26th December 2016. Hours: 11am to 9pm. 24th December 2016: 11am to 4pm. 25th and 26th December 2016: 11am to 7pm. Stephanplatz, Churhausgasse.

Christmas Market Am Hof

The “Platz am Hof” is one of the oldest squares of the city and is located right in the historic centre. On the square are the former armoury and the "House of the Golden Ball." In the middle of the square is a tall column where Maria prays to the Gothic "Kirche am Hof," a church with a Baroque style facade. Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is Austrian, and it was at the Collalto Palais at this very square where in 1762 the then six-year old boy together with his sister Nannerl gave their first public concert.

The square has always been a place for tournaments and events and the Christmas Market fits right in. Sylvia Praehofer from Franz Tausch Lebkuchen is a living example of how food obsessed (in the most positive sense) Austrians are. The company sells 40 different gingerbread varieties and she described them so beautifully to me that I couldn’t help but buy some. She narrowed down my decision with a few questions: “Do you love your gingerbread to be fruity?” … “Do you like it fruity and soft, or more spicy and delicate?” She keeps asking me till we find out what I like best. Make your own choice, this stall is gingerbread heaven. When I leave Ms Sylvia Praehofer explains that it is “best to store the gingerbread in a tin can, and should they become hard, simply place some fresh apple slices in the box.”

42 artisans, 13 commercial craftsmen, 7 traders, 2 Maroni huts and 12 food/drink stalls make this a truly magical Christmas Market. Drink a glass of punch at one of the many stalls and look around you. It is not too hard to imagine how it was in 1280, when the first market was held on this square.

Info Christmas Market Weihnachtsmarkt am Hof. Open till 23rd December 2016. Hours: Monday to Thursday. 11 am – 9 pm. Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 9 pm. Food stalls are open till 10pm.

Christmas Market Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt

This is one of these markets that one wants to visit at least once in their lifetime. The city hall in neo gothic style has been finished in 1882. There is a guy sitting on top of its tower, the city hall man, and he has probably the best view of the Christmas Market at the foot of this property. The massive Christmas tree was switched on to boisterous cheers of the crowds on the eve of 11th November, and ever since people’s eyes shine just as brightly as the lights of the Christmas tree. The location of the market between the famous Burgtheater and the Vienna City Hall is simply fantastic. The market opened for the first time in 1296 (initially at a different location) as Viennese merchants were given the privilege of a December market. Today there are three million visitors per year who come to see what’s on offer at the 140 stalls at this largest Christmas Market in Vienna.

If it is getting too cold, go inside of the town hall and visit Christkindls Werkstatt. (Kris Kringle’s studio). There is a cute café, and the hot chocolate served by the very charming waiters make for a very sweet break. The indoor stalls are fun for children who love to make their own biscuits and candles.

Info Christmas Market Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt. Open till 23rd December 2016. Hours: Sunday till Thursday 10am to 9.30pm. Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm. 24th December 2016: 10am – 4pm. 

Note: You can easily walk from one market to the other, and it is fun to visit a few of them in one day.

How to get to Vienna
By car from Bratislava approx. 80 kilometres.
By car from Budapest approx. 250 kilometres.
By car from Maribor in Slovenia approx. 250 kilometres.
By car from Munich in Germany approx. 435 kilometres.

By plane. Visit the website of the airport to check flight connections.

From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.